1:15 pm update: Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton is reporting that director John Singleton has died after being taken off life support.
Earlier: 12 days after suffering a stroke and then slipping into a coma, Boyz in the Hood director and TV producer John Singleton, 51, has apparently come to the end of the road. It was announced this morning that he’ll be taken off life support. Which probably means what it seems to mean.
The 23 year-old Singleton hit the mother lode in mid-1991 with the release of Boyz In The Hood, a first-rate South Central drama costarring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King and Angela Bassett. For the 64th Academy Awards Singleton was nominated for Best Director (making him the youngest to ever be so nominated) and Best Original Screenplay.
Lamentably, Boyz in the Hood remained Singleton’s only gold-standard achievement. Over the last 28 years he never matched it, much less made something better.
It was after seeing his Boyz followup, Poetic Justice (’93) with Janet Jackson in the lead, that I realized Singleton would at best be looking at an uncertain, up-and-down career. Poetic Justice was one of the worst titles ever used by anyone n the history of motion pictures, as Jackson’s character, a hairdresser with a gift for poetry, was named Justice. A friend remarked at the time that this was like Clint Eastwood‘s character in Unforgiven being named “Forgiven.”
Singleton also directed Higher Learning (’95), Baby Boy (’01), Rosewood (’97) Shaft (’00), 2 Fast 2 Furious (’03) and Four Brothers (’05).
Singleton family statement: “We are grateful to his fans, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and prayers during this incredibly difficult time. We want to thank all the doctors at Cedars Sinai for the impeccable care he received.”
Littleton reports that the statement also cited Singleton’s history of dealing with hypertension, or high blood pressure that places great strain on heart functions.
“Like many African Americans, Singleton quietly struggled with hypertension. More than 40% of African American men and women have high blood pressure, which also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe. His family wants to share the message with all to please recognize the symptoms by going to Heart.org.”